The college basketball capital of America is rightfully in Waco as both the Baylor Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams advanced past their opponents—a 78-75 overtime win over No. 6 Michigan for the No. 2 Lady Bears and 62-51 victory for the No. 1 Bears over No. 5 Villanova—to book two tickets to the NCAA Elite Eight rounds! Like I said in last week’s post about the teams in their previous rounds, “The Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams have already had immensely successful regular seasons (both earned Big 12 Championship titles, which you can read about here and here) and a fantastic postseason conference championship for the Lady Bears as well.” According to Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa), the men are “Advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2012 and the third time in the last 11 tournaments” and the women have made the trip in “eight of the previous 10 NCAA Tournaments.”
The No. 1 Bears had one of their worst games this season despite their final 11 point advantage as they performed abysmally on offense. But even though Baylor was down seven points at the half and only two players scored in the double digits (sophomore G Adam Flagler was the top scorer with 16 points and 3 rebounds, and junior G Davion Mitchell had 14 points and 1 rebound), they outperformed the Wildcats by 18 points in the second half. The Bears had an uncharacteristically terrible 3 point shooting day (remember they’re the best 3 shooters in the country), making only 15.8% (3-19) with 44.1% (26-59) of their field goals and 70% (7-10) of free throws. However, they scored 22 points off of Villanova’s turnovers compared to the Wildcats’ 4 points, and they had 24 bench points to the Wildcats’ 6 to secure a victory and an Elite Eight berth.
The No. 2 Baylor women also had a rough go, allowing No. 6 Michigan to get closer and closer until an overtime victory. Usually the Lady Bears are miles ahead of their opponents, but the Wolverines were dynamite with their 3s and Baylor struggled hitting their shots. Michigan shot 37.5% (9-24) of their 3s compared to Baylor’s 3-10, but junior F and Big 12 Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith recorded 24 points for her “66th career double-digit game,” which was the key to Baylor’s victory. Senior Gs Moon Ursin had 20 points with 5 rebounds and Dijonai Carrington notched 19 points and 7 rebounds. The Lady Bears shot 50% (32-64) of their field goals and 64.7% (11-17) of free throws and scored 16 points off of Wolverines’ turnovers (compared to their 10).